The wave of stick n poke tattoos is taking the internet over. The DIY style and attention to detail is what drew prominent Atlanta tattoo artist, Drew Huggins to start poking his friends. Word quickly spread about Drew’s talent, and Drew went from doing the occasional tattoo to creating a full-time job for himself- having at least one tattoo appointment per day. Drew joined Spots for a Q&A where he answered questions about how he got into the tattoo game. Here are the highlights:
When did you do your first tattoo?
“The first poke I ever did was back in September. it was a little mahjong fish icon and it took like four hours.”
What’s the best material to practice on if not a willing, courageous body?
“I’d definitely say to practice on fruit first. A banana or grapefruit works really well but its nothing like real skin.”
Who’s your favorite tattoo artist?
“This dude Carson Foley is definitely my favorite right now. His Instagram is @carsonfoley.nyc”
How was the tour you went on? How were you able to coordinate it all? Social media?
“Ok so with the tour, I really just reached out to people that I really wanted to get tatted and coordinated it that way! I used it as an excuse to give tattoos but it was all through instagram and the trip paid for itself.”
Has the tattoo world changed in significant ways since you joined it?
“Instagram has honestly changed the way people see tattoos and create their own style. So before people could share tattoos through social media everyone had to go to parlors to get tats and they’re (in my opinion) a breeding ground for traditionally styled tattoos.”
Are you thinking about transitioning to mostly machine tattoos?
“I see myself transitioning to a machine in order to avoid continuously doing six to eight-hour tattoos. But I love the texture of stick and poke so I don’t think I’ll ever completely stop.”
How do you think your style has developed? Any inspirations?
I use alot of movies to influence what I draw. I’m a big fan of ray guns and anime. I honestly just take alot of pictures of things that I see in everyday life and just draw them when I get a chance. I usually decide on designs in this way.”
What size needles do you use? I currently do mostly line work but I’d LOVE to get into more bold styles.
“I use different needles ranging from three to seven needle liners to eighteen needle shaders.”
Do you have an estimate on how many people you’ve tatted?
“I’ve done almost one hundred tattoos now and I have tatted around 50 people- maybe more.”
Were you surprised with how quickly you got popular?
“It doesn’t seem like there is a huge DIY tattoo scene in Atlanta. Places like New Yor City and Las Angelas have a whole lot more competition. that probably answers how styles are different in different cities and why I’ve been able to tattoo so many people in Atlanta so quickly.”
Do you plan on obtaining a license to tattoo/what is that process like?
“I want to get licensed but it’s a weird process and I can’t find a way to do it without working at a shop and spending $3,000 on an apprenticeship.”
Would you ever get a tattoo removed?
“I will never get a tattoo removed I don’t think. Even if it’s a shitty tattoo, I still want to remember why I got it.”
Is there anything that you’d refuse to tattoo on someone?
“I’ve been asked to copy work a few times and I always explained why I’m not comfortable doing it. If they want me to design something custom I usually don’t mind if it fits my style but, tattoo artists design tattoos that they want to tattoo themselves. It’s basically like painting the exact same thing you’ve seen in a museum and trying to sell it.”